MotoAmerica at Road America
Legions of race fans descended upon Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin June 1-3, for round 4 of the MotoAmerica road racing series. After a month-long sabbatical, riders and teams were eager to get back on the track and on the throttle. Reigning Superbike 1000 champ Toni Elias held a commanding lead in the points after the first three race rounds, but the challengers to his throne came stoked for battle. In Supersport 600 Valentin Debise returned to challenge class leader JD Beach in his first race weekend since a horrific crash at Daytona back in March. Junior Cup saw a full grid of 25 young riders, hungry to fight for racing glory.
MotoAmerica 2015-16 Superbike champ Cameron Beaubier was winless and down 35 points to 2017 champ Elias, with Josh Herrin, Mathew Scholtz, Roger Hayden, and even new teammate Garrett Gerloff all breathing down his neck. For much of the first three rounds, there was Elias out front, and the rest of the pack giving chase, battling each other for the remaining podium slots.
All that changed at Road America.
In Saturday’s Superbike race 1, Elias, Beaubier, and Herrin were swapping the lead, and at times swapping paint, in a grueling battle each lap. By the final lap, with tire traction, fuel, nerves, and strength all fading, these frontrunners banged bars several times in efforts to gain the advantage. Suddenly in a corner, Beaubier and Elias made contact, and the Spaniard tumbled out into the gravel, leaving the final rush to the checkered between Beaubier and Herrin. In what could be among the closest finishes in recent years, Beaubier edged out Herrin at the finish by a mere 0.002 margin.
Supersport 600 saw a shakeup among the season’s frontrunners, as Valentin Debise won his first race after a pitched battle with points leader JD Beach, who had been dogged by Hayden Gillim and Cory West prior to Debise’s return. For a guy who had fractured vertebrae back in March, the victory was sweet for the Frenchman.
Liqui Moly Junior Cup witnessed a clinic put on by Alex Dumas, who dominated the field with an 8.25 margin win over 2nd place Ashton Yates, and an 18.72 over 3rd place Sean Ungvarsky. The little KTM 390 rider led from the outset, and never gave anyone a chance to catch him.
Sunday’s Superbike 2 saw Elias run wide in a turn, losing contact with the front pack consisting of Beaubier, Herrin, and Roger Hayden. When Hayden made a slight error on the final lap, Beaubier and Herrin ran off to battle alone, with Beaubier once again edging out Herrin to the line after a thrilling closing half lap. Beaubier now leads Elias by 2 points, 153-151.
In Supersport race 2, Debise once again chomped at Beach the entire race, yet this time, the tables were turned. Beach held the lead across the span of the race, and as the finish line approached, Debise attempted to draft then pass Beach but lost out by a margin of 0.03 seconds.
Junior Cup experienced a dramatic shakeup in race 2, when Saturday winner Dumas, who had been leading again, suddenly crashed out and handed the lead to challenger Yates, who took full advantage by running away from the pack himself. The podium filled out with Cory Ventura 2nd, and Ungvarsky again claiming 3rd.
The racing all weekend was spectacular, even in the newer classes of Twins and Stock 1000. The roar of the bikes on the track, the roar of the crowds cheering on their favorite riders, and the stunning drama of each race make a MotoAmerica race weekend an experience like no other.
Racing resumes June 22-24 at the legendary Laguna Seca circuit. Buy tickets at www.motoamerica.com, or tune in via BeIN Sports and BeIN Connect. And of course, Born To Ride will bring all the results, standings, and highlights, right here and on our social media platforms.
Story Rob Brooks
Photos Rob Brooks and Ryan Nolan